Japan: Protect Fleeing Afghans at Risk

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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, right, greets UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi at the Akasaka State Guest House in Tokyo on July 22, 2021.
© 2021 Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool Photo via AP

(Tokyo) – Japan’s government should urgently protect Afghan civilians who are at risk under the new Taliban authorities, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

The Japanese government should also support resolutions at the 48th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which begins on September 13, 2021, for human rights fact-finding and reporting in Afghanistan, and increase assistance for refugees and civil society groups.

“The Japanese government, which has not even offered help to all Afghans with past ties to Japan, should urgently scale up its protection and support to Afghans at risk,” said Kanae Doi, Japan director at Human Rights Watch. “Japan should also offer to relocate and resettle at-risk Afghans in numbers commensurate with the crisis.”

Japan should offer protection to all Afghans who worked directly or indirectly with the Japanese government, or who would otherwise be perceived as being associated with Japan, and their families, Human Rights Watch said. Japan’s humanitarian visa program, currently under consideration, is reportedly aimed only at Afghans who worked with the Japanese embassy and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), along with their family members; as well as those Afghans who worked for Japanese entities such as Japanese nongovernmental organizations.

However, Japan should also include Afghan students who studied in Japan through JICA programs and Afghan staff of local partner groups of Japanese organizations, and their family members.

Japan so far has not announced any plans to facilitate family reunion or pledges for resettlement, while governments such as Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States have approved an increased humanitarian intake of Afghans at risk.

“The Japanese government should demonstrate its commitment to refugee protection and join with Canada, Germany, the UK, and the US and create an additional pathway for Afghans at risk,” Doi said. “Japan’s long involvement in Afghanistan and its leadership role as a donor underscores its responsibility to help Afghans now fleeing for their lives.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Japan, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/asia/japan

For more information, please contact:
In Tokyo, Kanae Doi (English, Japanese): +81-3-5575-3774; or +81-90-2301-4372 (mobile); or [email protected]
In Brussels, Patricia Gossman (English): +32-472-982-925; or [email protected] Twitter: @pagossman
In San Francisco, Brad Adams (English): +1-347-463-3531 (mobile); or [email protected] Twitter: @BradAdamsHRW
In New York, Phil Robertson (English, Thai): +1-917-378-4097 (mobile); or [email protected] Twitter: @Reaproy

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